Episode 181: Have Mercy
And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. And he cried out with a loud voice and said, “What have I to do with you, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore you by God that You do not torment me.” For He said to him, “Come out of the man, unclean spirit!” Then He asked him, “What is your name?” And he answered, saying, “My name is legion for we are many.” Also he begged Him earnestly that He would not send them out of the country. Now a large herd of swine was feeding there near the mountains. So all the demons begged Him, saying, “Send us to the swine, that we may enter them.” And at once Jesus gave them permission. Then the unclean spirits went out and entered the swine (there were about two thousand); and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and drowned in the sea. (Mark 5:5-13)
There is a lot to unpack in this passage so lets get started. In the last episode, I mentioned that people had tried to restrain this man with shackles and chains but they couldn’t hold him. He continued to break through the chains and tear apart the shackles. Here we see that he was living among the dead in the tombs. He was crying out in torment and cutting himself with stones, maybe intentionally or perhaps by walking and falling on rocks. This guy was in bad shape. I believe he was crying out to God to save him from the torment of the unclean spirit that possessed him. I also believe his cries were heard by God which is why Jesus was there in the first place.
When Jesus steps out of the boat, the man runs to Jesus and falls at his feet. Here we see a conversation between the demons and Jesus. They recognize Jesus as the Son of God. They also know that Jesus has authority over them and that a day of reckoning was coming. How is it that demons recognize Jesus has authority and are obedient but we still want to make our own rules?
When Jesus commanded them to come out of the man, they begged that Jesus not send them out of the country. I have read this passage before but it never dawned on me that these demons desired to stay in this country. Why is that? This are was filled with people who had turned away from God. They chose not to worship God or follow his statutes. Jewish law and tradition were no longer part of their lives. They had turned their back on God and walked away from His protection, making them open targets for the torment of the enemy. The demons had free reign in this country because the people chose to be far from God. This is a lesson to us today. When we remove God from our lives, we also remove His covering and protection. The farther we are from God, the more susceptible we are to the torment of the enemy.
When Jesus asked the demon his name, he replied with, “My name is legion, for we are many.” Hollywood likes to borrow that line when it make movies about demon possession. I don’t think the people making those movies realize just what kind of forces they are playing with but I digress. When Jesus allows the demons to possess the swine, we see exactly how many demons this man was dealing with. The verse tells us that there were about two thousand pigs feeding on the hillside. There were enough demons in this man to possess two thousand pigs and drive them into the sea. Here we also see a glimpse of God at work even when it seems like He is not present. If these demons could cause a herd of pigs to charge into the sea and drown themselves, what was keeping then from doing the same to the man? I believe it was the mercy of God that spared this man from death and gave him strength to persevere through the torment.
This man lived in an area full of demons and among people who purposely walked without God. There’s a good chance he was living this way when the demons took possession of him. I believe he knew where he had went wrong and who he needed to rescue him. His crying out in the night, I believe, were prayers to God to deliver him from this torment. The demons were using this man to frighten the people in the area. He was their personal puppet. His body was being used and abused by the demons as a witness to spread fear. But, the story wasn’t over. Jesus was about to show up and rewrite the plot.
Let us be a people who recognize the authority Jesus has over our lives and submit to Him. Let us take our torment to the feet of Jesus just as this man did. Let us strive to remain in the presence of Jesus and under His protection. Let us never take for granted the mercy of God in our lives. Let us no longer try to write our own story but instead, let Jesus be the author of our story.
Love Y’all! Be Blessed!